Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment hosted its LA Product Showcase, May 31. Cranes, trucks, cameras and crew filled the courtyard of the company’s Los Angeles facility, with attendees welcomed and encouraged to be hands on during equipment demonstrations and tours. Demonstrations included popular products such as the Pee Wee dolly and Titan Crane. The showcase show-stoppers, however, were the Cobra VT and the company’s newest innovation, the Miniscope.
Both the Cobra VT and Miniscope Crane were presented at the showcase’s main stage, with former Society of Camera Operators (SOC) president David Frederick and veteran dolly grip Chris Brow operating the Miniscope in a demo led by Leonard Chapman. “Having experienced guys operating and doing the demo makes it easy for me. I don’t have to say anything,” Chapman joked. “It’s just another tool for you to use your imaginations. No matter what we provide in the way of equipment, it is useless without the people who use it. They have to have the imagination and creativity to use those tools to their maximum.”
The Miniscope is fashioned out of magnesium and light enough to fly on any Chapman dolly, in addition to the Hybrid IV and Hybrid III chassis. Designed for Mitchell Mount bases, the lightweight single-stage crane arm can play in tight spaces on any capable Mitchell Mount option. The single-stage boom, as compared to the multiple-stage Hydrascope, requires less counterbalance weight and can be partially operated cold, should electricity become unavailable. Use of the boom and pan/tilt can be manipulated manually at the head, with remote tilts and pans only possible while battery or AC powered. Another distinguishing factor as compared to the Hydrascope’s hydraulic design, the Miniscope operates by electricity alone and requires only one Chapman battery for an entire day’s use.
“You can carry it up stairs very easily,” explained Brow. “Getting a telescopic crane into places where you normally wouldn’t is a huge benefit.” According to Brow, the feel of the Miniscope is different than that of the Hydrascope in terms of operation, because of the electric power. Still, Brow stressed the crane’s light weight and payload capability of 150 lbs as reasons for an eventual high demand.
An additional presentation was lead by Frederick on behalf of the SOC titled “Camera Operator & Dolly/Crane Grip – The Necessary Synergy & Connection.” A panel of seasoned camera operators and dolly grips joined Frederick in sharing about the relationship intricacies between camera operator and dolly grip. “Even with a camera operator doing handheld, Steadicam or recently, MoVI or [DJI] Ronin shots, the camera dolly grip is always present to ensure the shot is safe and is executed as best as it can possibly be done,” said Frederick